by Robin Kemp

Iris Jessie, who has lived in Riverdale for 17 years and holds a master’s degree, is running for City Council in Ward 3. Jessie has served as Riverdale City Manager and is East Point’s human resources director.

Why are you the best-qualified candidate in your ward?

I am the best qualified to represent the residents of Ward 3 because my experience and education make me uniquely suited to introduce legislation to address the cleanliness of the city, tax incentives for businesses to locate in Riverdale, coordinate with other regional, state and federal partners to bring resources such as grants to pay for street improvements. I am experienced in financial management and know how to develop budgets,

What are the FIVE most pressing issues in Riverdale, in your opinion?

  • Revitalizing GA-85
  • Greater transparency/responsiveness
  • Open checkbook on city website
  • Outreach to non-English speaking residents
  • Absentee landlords/code enforcement

What is the ONE issue you would tackle first? How would you go about solving the problem?

I would immediately urge the other city council members to develop programs to clean up the trash along our major corridors.

What has the city done RIGHT/improved over the past 4 years?

Balanced Budget as required by law.

What has the city done WRONG/failed to improve over the past 4 years?

There has been very little outreach to citizens.

Define “transparency” in your own words.

Transparency means that information is readily available without unnecessary filtering. It means that information people need is shared without them asking for it.

What specific changes will you make if elected?

I would hold quarterly meetings with the residents of Ward 3 to listen to their concerns. I will introduce legislation to amend the budget to create Clean Sweep Teams to remove trash from city streets. I will make information accessible and instruct the City Administration to direct departments to respond to citizen concerns within 48 hours.

What THREE services does your ward need most right now?

  • Speed bumps/traffic calming
  • Pick up litter/junk/cut grass on public right of way (Public Works)
  • Monthly LISTENING SESSION for ward residents to share concerns/ask questions

Describe the city’s current racial climate.

Good

What do you think homeowners in your ward want/need?

Lower property taxes and better services.

What do you think renters in your ward want/need?

Employment in jobs that pay a living wage and safe recreation activities for their children.

What do you think business owners in your ward want/need?

Assistance with facade improvements.

Will you make yourself available to the press immediately before and/or immediately after every council meeting?

Yes

Will you support greater representation of diverse faith communities at city functions (e.g., non-Christian invocations, interfaith summit, etc.)?

Yes

Have you accepted campaign donations from anyone who does business with the city? If so, who and how much?

No

Should the city incorporate solar power and electric car chargers in the city center complex?

Yes

Will you change city trucks/cars that aren’t used for heavy-duty towing, etc. (such as Code Enforcement/Public Works/City Hall) to electric/hybrid models?

Yes

Where would you cut spending and where would you increase it?

MORE: City-sponsored events, Sidewalks, Street lights, Experienced police officer recruitment, Small business assistance, Public relations, Employee training, Historic preservation, Energy efficiency, Teen programs/resources, Code enforcement, Drug interdiction, Professional interpreter(s), Walkability, Bike lanes

LESS: Consulting fees, Personal services, Meals, Elections operations, City fleet fuel costs, Town Center events

How would you improve GA Hwy. 138?

I would first organize the stakeholders and meet with them regarding their needs.

What are your thoughts about the ward boundary map issue?

The Ward boundary map should be reviewed. Houses along a street should be in the same Ward/city and not in the county.

  • Returns calls/texts/emails within 24 hours: F
  • Openness/transparency: F
  • Responsiveness to citizen concerns: F
  • Open-door policy for residents: F
  • Ease of small-business permitting: C
  • Current cityscape/built environment: D
  • Job creation: F
  • Fiscal responsibility: C
  • Stewardship of city resources: C
  • City-sponsored events: B
  • Resources for teenagers: C
  • Drug activity: B
  • Racial reconciliation: C
  • Housing stock: C
  • Affordable housing (rent): B
  • Walkability: C
  • Tree replenishment: C
  • Noise abatement: B
  • Police responsiveness: C
  • Party houses/Air BnB enforcement: B
  • LGBTQ+ friendliness: B
  • Religious diversity: A
  • Small business support: C

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